It was the latest in a series of emotional public meetings on the health-care issue that have prompted Obama and Democratic leaders to complain of a campaign by opponents to drown out the debate with unruly disruptions.
At one point, Specter shouted into his microphone that demonstrators disrupting the proceedings would be thrown out.
"We're not going to tolerate any demonstrations or any booing," he said after one audience member shoved another making an unsolicited speech. "So it's up to you."
Many in the crowd identified themselves as conservative Republicans, with one man noting they had voted Specter to Congress before the senator changed parties earlier this year.
A woman prompted a standing ovation by telling Specter: "I don't believe this is just health care. This is about the systematic dismantling of this country. … I don't want this country turning into Russia, turning into a socialized country. What are you going to do to restore this country back to what our founders created, according to the Constitution?"
Cue Richard Hofstadter:
The paranoid spokesman sees the fate of conspiracy in apocalyptic terms—he traffics in the birth and death of whole worlds, whole political orders, whole systems of human values. He is always manning the barricades of civilization. He constantly lives at a turning point. Like religious millenialists he expresses the anxiety of those who are living through the last days and he is sometimes disposed to set a date for the apocalypse.
The date in this case being the day comprehensive health care reform passes both in the House and the Senate I suppose. It takes a smarter man than I to know why people cling to such apocalyptic and clearly lunatic beliefs (a man like Bob Altemeyer, for one.) What I do know, is that I'm tired of the fate of our nation being completely hijacked by the stupidest, most reactionary and paranoid among us. Marc Ambinder senses that the conservatives have already lost, but it's hard to tell when they're screaming so loud.
(h/t to Sadly, No! for general inspiration.)